What are Bleeds, How to Allow Bleeds, and What Bleeds Can Do for Your Project

A bleed isn’t necessarily a good thing…unless you’re talking about getting rid of that ugly white frame around your printing project. Then bleeds become the most natural thing in the world! Here’s a look at what they can do to put a finished touch on your project and how you can incorporate those bleeds into your files to make sure you get the smooth, flawless edges you’re looking for. .

What are Bleeds?

A bleed is when your picture “bleeds” over the edge of your cut lines. In other words, when you trim the edges of your print project you’re actually cutting off part of the picture. It effectively serves to eliminate that white frame you get around your central image otherwise, giving your project a full colored, full-bodies appearance.


Card without Bleeds


Card with Bleeds

See the difference?

How to Create Bleeds in Your Files

Knowing what a bleed is, and recognizing its potential value for your project, is only half the battle. The other half is knowing how to integrate bleeds into your file so you know you’ll get the finished appearance you’re looking for when your print project comes back.
There are certain features in programs like Photoshop that will automatically create these bleeds for you, and if you’re software savvy you can pull up the “Help” feature on these programs to see how you can make that happen.

There is, however, a way to create bleeds regardless of what graphic design software you’re using. In the U.S., bleeding a background means extending the background 1/8” over the final paper trim edge; so, all you have to do is add 1/8” to each dimension to allow for cutting.

For example, a 4”x6” postcard with a full bleed should be submitted at 4.25”x6.25”.

The only thing you really need to remember about using this formatting option for bleeds is to make sure there’s no text hanging out in that extra 1/8” of space. Anything in that space on any of the edges is going to get snipped off, and you’ll just have to start all over again…and nobody wants that.